In my blogs, I try to pass on various tips that either increase fitness levels, reduce fatness levels or – ideally – a bit of both. Sometimes these can be a bit complicated (especially when I find myself in the wonderful world of macronutrients ratios and timing), so this week I’ve taken a much more simple approach.
A key way to get the body burning more bodyfat as fuel is to give it no alternative – but without activating the State of Alert or Starvation response. And the best and easiest way to do this is to maximise what is already the body’s longest fat-burning period, which is overnight, starting from a few hours after your last meal.
The easiest trick I know for this, is to have a 12 hour period every day (overnight) without eating. So, if your last consumption of food or drink was at 9pm, don’t have anything else until 9am. If you’re out late and eating or drinking until 11pm, then tomorrow’s breakfast is at 11am. It’s that simple.
The body will use the fuel from the carbs in your last evening’s meal or drinks for the first part of overnight, then will turn to it’s built-in fuel reserve for the next few hours – until you ingest some food or drink again. That built-in fuel reserve is your body fat. So prolonging this second period significantly helps in making the body turn to its fat reserves for fuel.
Don’t be tempted to grow the fasting period to beyond 12 hours, as this can have the opposite effect – a long fast period can put the body into what is known as the State of Alert and elicits the Starvation response – with the body going all unwell on you and clinging on to bodyfat, as it thinks times have gone really tough and no food is coming for goodness-knows how long. But 12 hours as a fast is fine, and to do it well, you should do this 12 hour gap every day.
To make this more effective, try to have some exercise in the morning before the end of the 12 hours. Ideally light to moderate cardio – nothing too strenuous that puts you out of breath. I find 40 minutes on a cross trainer at level 12 or 30 minutes slow jogging does the trick for me.
And if you want another tip, have some black coffee before that exercise session – this opens up the fat cells and encourages the release of fat to the bloodstream for use as fuel. By the way, black coffee is allowed in the 12-hour non-eat period as it has no calories. Black tea and water are the same, allowed as they have no calories. So the idea is not really avoiding meal or food in that time, it’s keeping clear of anything with calories.
Of course, what you eat and drink in the other 12 hours of each day is very important too – but outside the scope of this week’s blog. Talking about that would get me started on macronutrients ratios again, and I’m giving that subject a miss today. So for a simple rule, that really helps in reducing fatness levels, get into that everyday 12 hour fast, quick!